A friend and I went to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge last Friday where we walked, talked, and communed with the natural world. First up is a Gray Hairstreak Butterfly on a Rocky Mountain Bee Plant.
This was one of two dragonflies that moved incredibly quickly as they darted together up-down-off-to-the-side-then-up-again as we spun around, trying to keep them in sight before they abruptly came to rest on these rushes.
Sometimes we didn’t know what we were looking at and took time to investigate.
No matter what we saw, whether it was old or new to us, we took delight in the many tiny miracles. Even a much-maligned thistle made us pause and reach out a gentle finger to touch its wondrous beauty.
All gratitude to Mother Nature.
This morning we opted to take our daily walk on the trails and headed out when it was a mild 70 degrees. I didn’t bring water because I didn’t think we’d need it. And at the time Zippy took this photo with his phone, Emma was still handling the heat pretty well. (Telltale sign: tongue flopped forward rather than dangling to the side.)
Emma and a clump of Blanketflower in Hayden Green Mountain Park. June 22, 2021
But by the time we’d walked about 2.5 miles and stepped back on a neighborhood street, Emma was done. She collapsed in a full sploot on a patch of shaded pavement. She absolutely did not want to move and I thought I might have to carry her home. There was precedent for this behavior and I most definitely should’ve known better.
Fortunately, the three of us did make it home without having to take turns carrying each other and, once inside, I immediately set my water holster next to my trail shoes. A pointed reminder in case I somehow (again) forget her overheated sploot. I owe it to my sweet little doggo to keep her hydrated.
I spent the afternoon at Sawhill Ponds and Walden Ponds in Boulder. I’d never been before. My goodness, it’s a lovely place to wander. At one point we were on a tiny trail along the shoreline, scrambling over fallen trees and uneven terrain, when we heard several plops.
Oops. There’d been an entire logful of turtles before we startled them away. Laura pointed out we wouldn’t even have noticed any of them if not for the sound. But lucky us, we were alerted to the presence of this lone turtle that remained. Resolute. And completely still. (I didn’t even notice the mirror image until I was cropping the photo.)
Ponds are magical places and I’m happy to have another soul-replenishing destination on my radar.
I spent most of the day reading in bed as my response to the second vaccine dose. The electrolytes and ibuprofen worked wonders and I rallied late afternoon to walk in the sunshine with Zippy and Emma. In shady parts of the neighborhood, there were still piles of snow left from the plows and our exuberant doggo took every opportunity to “submarine” in those piles, roll around on her back, or perform a combination of both. It never failed to bring a smile and I regret not getting pics.
April 16, 2021
This shot from earlier in the week will have to suffice. Take this backyard energy and crank it up about five notches to get an idea of Emma’s happiness level today.
This morning I met my pal Laura Perdew in Golden where we walked the paths next to Clear Creek. It was sunny, but cold and windy. After we adjusted, though, it was absolutely beautiful. We walked and talked. Walked and took in our surroundings. Laura spotted a duck on the water, a species neither of us recognized, and I lamented that I’d forgotten my camera. Later on, we circled back to where we’d started from and there was the duck again. These photos were all taken with my phone. I had on my prescription sunglasses that are polarized and couldn’t really see anything. Basically, I held up my phone and optimistically clicked away.
The above image on the left shows two mallards on the ice while the duck we didn’t recognize paddled about. (We later identified that paddler as a hybrid Common/Barrow’s Goldeneye, a perfectly stunning specimen). The Goldeneye is also in that photo on the right which was captured as I blindly clicked away.
These ice photos were taken from where I sat on a boulder in the sunshine, so very happy to be out in the natural world. I swear I could spend hours looking at ice formations.
It was a glorious morning and I’m going back there soon with my camera. Clear Creek is balm for my soul.
(Note: Right before waking this morning, I dreamt I was out in public and realized I’d forgotten to wear my mask. As I fumbled to put it on, I realized the throngs of people around me were all mask-less. I called through mine in a panic: “Where are your masks?” I was ignored. Fortunately, I’m pleased to report my real life experience was totally different and probably 95% of the people I saw today wore masks.)
We woke to 8-9 inches of snow this morning after a high of 58 degrees yesterday. I should be used to Colorado’s swiftly-changing weather patterns and yet was still surprised to see that beautiful white blanket outside. We’re in desperate need of moisture so it was with happy hearts that Wildebeest and I shoveled all that heavy snow (although he might define the experience differently).
Zippy and I just walked Emma through the slushy streets of our neighborhood.
It was a bit chilly in the shade but nice in the sun. And those dry patches of pavement were especially welcome. This low-quality photo taken with my phone doesn’t do justice to how good it felt to be outside in the sunshine, breathing clean, crisp air.
ETA: Zippy sent me these photos right after I’d posted.
I’m very grateful for today’s clean air! The snow ( temporarily, at least) cleared the smoke and ash from the wildfires. There’s also sunshine. Hooray! And it was a balmy 40 degrees as Zippy, Emma, and I walked around the neighborhood, skirting patches of ice. It’s the first walk in weeks and weeks (months?) in which I didn’t have to wear a mask to protect my lungs from smoke. I felt so free.
House finch. October 24, 2019.
My son, Zebu, doesn’t get it, but I absolutely love the day following a big snowstorm. Clean, crisp air plus blue skies equals happiness.
This photo was taken the day after one of our snowstorms last October, but it’s a perfect representation of this day. And maybe this same House Finch is out in the plum bushes as I write these words.
Emma the doggo and I walked on the trails this morning. At one point, as she snuffled at the many odors in the vegetation, something caught my eye. I got a brief glimpse of big ears and two eyes of a creature peering at me from behind a bush farther up the trail. We remained motionless, staring at one another. As my brain tried to process what I was seeing, I blinked, and the animal was gone. I’m pretty sure it was a coyote, although much smaller than this one.
Emma didn’t even notice the coyote, but as we advanced up the trail her sniffing became even more urgent. I searched the surrounding area: no sign of what I’d seen. I could almost believe I imagined the whole thing, but every time I close my eyes I picture the fur, the intense eyes, and those enormous ears.
Definitely the highlight of my day.
River walk, Blakeslee, PA. August 18, 2019.
If you look closely
over and underexposed
but also detailed
Neighbor’s yard. April 1, 2020.
After 20 days of not feeling well, I’m regaining my health. Still have my morning cough episodes, but yesterday I walked the neighborhood (2.25 miles, yo!) and today did yard clean-up for three hours and then took another walk. I’m tired now, but not to-the-bone-fatigued. Whatever illness was dogging me, it’s on the way out. Woot! Woot! Woot!
To celebrate, here’s a beautiful little bouquet I photographed in my neighbor’s yard.
Just took a 21-minute walk in the frigid cold, gingerly traversing the icy, rutted streets of our neighborhood. The two feet of snow we got earlier this week are gonna be around a while. Today, I’m thankful for the knowledge that this, too, shall
June 29, 2018
Blue skies and lily blooms are in my future.
This week brought ice, snow, and frigid temperatures. But in classic Colorado style, today was blue skies, sunshine, and a balmy 55 degrees. My sons and a friend joined Emma and me on a walk around the neighborhood this afternoon, and the weather was so delicious I wanted more. When we got home, I put on my running togs and ran around the neighborhood streets.
Final light of the day hits neighbor’s roof as melting snow falls in jeweled strands.
And even though the sun has disappeared behind the hills, I’m still feeling good. Thank you, sunshine and endorphins!
Lots of birds visit our yard. We have multiple feeders, a bird bath, native shrubs, and mature trees. Our cats are indoor-only. We’re a bird-friendly destination, yo. Which is why it’s so baffling that crows don’t come around very often. I love crows’ black shininess and their sass. I love their raucous cries and intelligence. I just love crows.
Today I got to love them from afar. We were walking around the neighborhood and were two blocks from our house when we saw a couple crows on a roof, one in a tree, another hopping in the street and another few hopping on the lawn. What did that house and yard have that we don’t have? I stood below this light and asked these two why they didn’t come around my place.
They didn’t give me an answer. Color me envious.
Late this afternoon I finished reading John Carlin’s Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation (later re-released as Invictus) and then took a walk around the neighborhood with Zippy and Emma. As we walked past the home with the enormous pickup truck parked in front, the enormous truck with a TRUMP / PENCE sticker in the window, I fought my daily urge to throw a brick through that window.
And then I remembered the magic Nelson Mandela wrought in South Africa. After being unjustly locked away in prison for twenty-seven years, Mandela’s heart and mind were still open wide. He paved the way for blacks and whites to reconcile their anger and their guilt so they could become one. One Team, One Country. He helped blacks and whites unite around the Springbok rugby team as it went on to win the World Cup in 1995. Over and over, Mandela’s instincts and generosity of spirit helped everyone, black and white, become their better selves. It’s an extraordinary story and book, and I highly recommend reading it.
It’s hard to admit that within minutes of finishing Playing the Enemy, I wanted to inflict my red-hot anger on the person who keeps that sticker on his truck. Instead, I’d like to keep in mind what Desmond Tutu’s friend said about the day South Africa united around the Springbok victory: “The great thing about everything good that has happened is that it can happen again.”
Time to cultivate my better self.
Today I am thankful for my friend, mentor, and critique partner Claudia Mills who is spontaneous and responded in the affirmative to my last-minute invitation to get together. We spent an hour and a half this afternoon strolling around Viele Lake in Boulder. The sun shone brightly the entire time we walked and talked. Tanky-the-dog mostly listened, although he interjected a few yips at other mostly-larger dogs on the path.
Claudia and Tanky after our final lap around the lake.
It’s the last day of January (don’t let the door hit you on the way out!) and I’m grateful for the revitalization that comes from friendship and sunshine.
Tried to capture joy
of dog’s bouncing ears, pert tail
Yesterday was so damned cold I didn’t go outside. By evening, I was anxious and grumpy. Today it’s still very cold, but I just went for a fast 22-minute walk with Zippy and Emma in the sunshine. I feel exhilarated! And as soon as I post this, I’m going to turn up the music and get going on the Massive Photo Scrapbooking Project.
Because as Michael Franti says: Music is sunshine. Like sunshine, music is a powerful force that can instantly and almost chemically change your entire mood. Music gives us new energy and a stronger sense of purpose.
I’m gonna double down on the mood enhancement. Sunshine + Music. I refuse to let December’s cold and short days grind the life out of me.
Zippy and I passed this sculpture on the sidewalk as we walked around the neighborhood with Emma yesterday morning. It’s now 7:15 on Sunday night and I can say with absolute certainty that spotting this cheery little fella was the highlight of a very difficult weekend.
I hope it also brings you a smile.
Yesterday, I wrote about my gratitude for the snowstorm.
Today, after trying to walk Emma who seemed so determined to make me fall on the ice that I was forced to abort the effort after only three minutes, I’m over it.
It’s too cold to take Emma for her walk.
The sun is nowhere to be seen.
It’s gonna be dark-dark-dark in a couple hours.
Humor me and this long-ago clematis bloom.
It’s been a murky day filled with emotions, confusion, and an overall sense of TIRED. But I finally succumbed to cute Emma the Dog’s wriggling reminder that it was time for our daily walk, and went out to do just that.
Movement plus a smiling, happy dog by my side brought clarity to the day.
I’m feeling so much better. Today, Dog is most definitely this woman’s best friend.
Yesterday, as Zippy and I walked Emma around our neighborhood, we noted a larger-than-typical number of butterflies. We wondered if we were in a migration path. Sure enough, when we got home and looked in the backyard, we discovered this:
Rather than orange and black like the monarch butterfly, the Painted Lady is orange and brown. Migrations are also happening elsewhere. It was awe-inspiring to be in their lovely company as they soaked up the sun and flowery nutrition from the rabbit brush.Another generous gift from Mother Earth.
Zippy and I just took Emma for a walk around our neighborhood. As we walked, we noted the bright, outdoor lights shining on the marjority of houses we passed. It was a relief whenever we passed dark houses. A break for our eyes.
As annoying as those bright lights are for me, they can be life and death for birds during migration time. (And yes, I understand that lights on tall buildings are more problematic for birds than suburban lighting.)
Photo: NASA Earth Observatory
I still wish that all people, both urban and suburban, worried less about what might be lurking in the dark, and more about the well-being of our feathered friends. Excessive lighting is just that.
Today I am thankful for:
(1) open space
(2) Emma the happy pup
clover vetch (h/t Jenn Hubbard)